Constructed in 1909, it is the second purpose built banked oval racing circuit after Brooklands and the first to be called a 'speedway'. It has a permanent seating capacity of 257,325 with infield seating raising the grand total capacity to an approximate 400,000. It is the highest-capacity sports venue in the world.
Indianapolis businessman Carl G. Fisher first envisioned building the speedway in 1905 after assisting friends racing in France and seeing that Europe held the upper hand in automobile design and craftsmanship. Fisher began thinking of a better means of testing cars before delivering them to consumers. At the time, racing was just getting started on horse tracks and public roads. Fisher noticed how dangerous and ill-suited the makeshift courses were for racing and testing. He also argued that spectators did not get their money's worth, as they were only able to get a brief glimpse of cars speeding down a linear road.
Fisher proposed building a circular track 3 to 5 miles (5 to 8 km) long with smooth 100–150-foot-wide (30–45 m) surfaces. Such a track would give manufacturers a chance to test cars at sustained speeds and give drivers a chance to learn their limits. Fisher predicted speeds could reach up to 120 mph (190 km/h) on a 5-mile (8 km) course. He visited the Brooklands circuit outside London in 1907, and after viewing the banked layout, it solidified his determination to build the speedway. With dozens of car makers and suppliers in Indiana, Fisher proclaimed, "Indianapolis is going to be the world's greatest center of horseless carriage manufacturer, what could be more logical than building the world's greatest racetrack right here?
On the grounds of the speedway is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, which opened in 1956, and houses the Auto Racing Hall of Fame. The museum moved into its current building located in the infield in 1976. Also on the grounds is the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort, which originally opened as the Speedway Golf Course in 1929. The golf course has 14 holes outside the track, along the backstretch, and four holes in the infield. The speedway also served as the venue for the opening ceremonies for the 1987 Pan American Games.
According to wikipedia